Thinking this will prevent war, the US government gives an impenetrable supercomputer total control over launching nuclear missiles. But what the computer does with the power is unimaginable to its creators.
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Forbin is the designer of an incredibly sophisticated computer that will run all of America's nuclear defenses. Shortly after being turned on, it detects the existence of Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, previously unknown to US Planners. Both computers insist that they be linked, and after taking safeguards to preserve confidential material, each side agrees to allow it. As soon as the link is established the two become a new Super computer and threaten the world with the immediate launch of nuclear weapons if they are detached. Colossus begins to give its plans for the management of the world under its guidance. Forbin and the other scientists form a technological resistance to Colossus which must operate underground. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Programs and commands for Colossus often elicit the expression "OLD PROGRAM NAME" on the large text displays of the computer. This reflects the influence of time-sharing terminal interfaces used at the time, especially for interactive programming environments in the BASIC language. Existing programs were often loaded for editing or execution by typing the command OLD into a terminal, and then responding to a prompt with the program name, whereas new programs were created by typing NEW. Similarly, RUN was the command used to actually execute a program written in BASIC on these systems. See more »
When Colossus is learning math, Harrison is standing across from Forbin. He is asked to get a printout. When he comes back to Forbin he stands next to him, yet there is a quick shot of him standing across from Forbin and then in the next shot he is standing next to Forbin. See more »
"Colossus: The Forbin Project" integrates two familiar themes--a Cold War "Doomsday" scenario, and computers that run amok--to produce a truly engrossing thriller.
In a top-secret Pentagon project, American computer scientist Dr. Charles Forbin builds a great supercomputer, "Colossus," to control America's entire nuclear forces automatically. The Soviets soon follow with their own supercomputer, "Guardian," to control their own forces.
"Colossus" then stuns Forbin by issuing a "request" to set up communication with "Guardian," perhaps to learn more about it. And that's when Dr. Forbin makes his fatal mistake. His scientific curiosity and love for his "child" overwhelms him too, and he gets the President to approve the communication.
Colossus and Guardian begin communicating, soon exchanging data in a new language of their own devising that no human being can understand.
Fearing what may be happening, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. attempt to break the communication link. But Colossus and Guardian react by launching nuclear missiles at various targets to force the humans to keep the link open--and to do whatever else they command. It becomes clear that the two computers are now conspiring with each other--against the rest of humanity.
The rest of the movie is a fascinating battle of wits between the human designers of the machines, who must now try to find a way to defeat machines they had just spent ten years making invincible, and the Colossus-Guardian computers with their own rapidly developing plans for the future of humankind.
The moral of this movie makes an interesting contrast with the moral of "Forbidden Planet." "Forbidden Planet" showed that no matter how advanced our civilization gets technologically, we can't escape the "monsters" buried deeply in the baser instincts of our subconscious. "Colossus" showed that we can't escape hubris or "Murphy's Law" either.
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